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Lanesboro looks at budget cuts for 2008

Fri, Dec 7th, 2007
Posted in Government

LANESBORO - Before the regular City Council meeting on December 3, residents of Lanesboro were invited to a Public Hearing to discuss the budget or levy items for 2008. There were no citizens at the meeting to ask any questions. City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman explained to the council during the regular meeting some of the changes she had made to the budget.

Vickerman has managed to reduce the tax levy amount to five percent, bringing the total proposed levy down from $408,224 in September to $382,576. She has been looking at different areas of the budget and coming up with ideas for ways to cut costs and increase revenue. One of the areas she was looking at is the ambulance service, and the rates that are charged.

Lanesboro currently charges $350 per call. The rates of surrounding communities are all around $500-600. Vickerman believes Medicare pays around $470-500, but she is going to find out the exact figure. Some communities charge a different fee for locations out of the area, and some have a charge for treating a patient without transporting them. Vickerman suggested the council look at changing the rates by January 1.

She added that the money made by the ambulance service could be built up in a capital fund for future purchases, or some money could be transferred to the city office for compensation of the paper work that is done.

Council member Joe O'Connor mentioned that a plan should be developed for building a separate ambulance shed. Vickerman stated it is part of the Community Center Capital Improvement Plan.

Another way the city could build up some revenue would be to transfer money that usually sits in the checking account for six months into a money market where it can build interest and still be readily available. The library also reduced their budget by $5,000. Vickerman recommended the council members look the budget over and offer any suggestions, as the budget and levy will have to be adopted at the next meeting December 17.

Capital Planning

Vickerman also presented the council with a list of potential projects that need to be completed soon. The number one priority, according to Vickerman and the engineers at Yaggy Colby, is the Whittier Street project. There have been many problems with water run-off in the area. The project would include full street reconstruction, replacing all water main and storm sewer, as well as adding drains. The estimated cost of the project is $607,490. The Capital Improvement Plan budgeted $763,000, so Vickerman thinks the city could also do the paving, curb and gutter on Maple Drive for $109,111.60. The final decision will have to be made by the next meeting as the surveying will need to be done soon.

Vickerman is also still working on the Assessment Policy, which will need to be in place before work will be done in the spring. She would like to have it completed by the end of January, and welcomes any suggestions.

Other business

• Council member Tom Dybing spoke about an issue with a road on the East side of the Southern Hills area. There is a 33 foot easement on the property and the adjacent property owners have wondered if the easement could be used as a road.

City Attorney Tom Manion said the easement is not public right now; it is private for the two property owners. It was originally a 66 foot easement, but now 33 feet of it is a public road. The question is whether or not the city should vacate the area. Manion believed it would be in the city's best interest to hang on to the easement, as it could be handy to have the access. Also, vacating the easement would not resolve any traffic issues because of the private drive right next to it.

• The EDA (Economic Development Authority) had met earlier that day, and O'Connor said they are working on strengthening and sustaining local businesses. They are going to put business resources, including loan packages and subsidiaries and Chamber of Commerce information on the city's web site. He also recommended the council approve a Revolving Loan Fund. The council approved transferring $3,000 from the 2007 EDA budget to such a fund.

• Vickerman had her employee review in November. Dybing told her they appreciate all the work that she does. O'Connor made a motion to increase her salary $2,250 to be more in line with salaries from neighboring communities, and it was approved.

• The council approved Vickerman attending an Employee Behavior Seminar for one day in February. They also approved a list of liquor licenses for local businesses for 2008.

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